Walter F. Roarke, 83, of West Warwick passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 1 at Kent County Hospital.
It was the closing chapter in a life story filled with adventure and discovery that took him to places far and wide, introduced him to countless friends and delivered him a catalog of stories that only got richer in their retelling, usually during a car trip to see a new place and find the next adventure or over a beer once the destination for that day was reached.
A loving spouse to Patricia C. (Walker) Roarke for 47 years, Walter was a lifelong resident of West Warwick. Walter is the son of Walter J. Roarke and Mary T. (Riley) Roarke.
Aside from Patricia, he is survived by his son Shawn P. Roarke of Matawan, N.J., and his wife Daryl, as well as daughter Kimberley J. Roarke of Warwick, R.I. He was a devoted grandpa to three grandchildren, Alex and Erin Roarke and Ainslee Aguilar. He reveled in their academic, athletic and social achievements as they’ve grown toward and into their teen-aged years.
Walter was predeceased by his brothers John J. Roarke of West Warwick, Michael T. Roarke of Cranston, R.I., and his sister Mary E. McKanna of West Warwick, R.I. He was also predeceased by his first wife, Dora-Lee Erickson, who passed away in 1970.
A sense of adventure, nourished by a love of reading as a child, took hold when he was still in his teens and was sent to Asia as a member of the United States Navy.
The reasons for leaving varied, and the joy of finding different places and meeting new people was always a thrill, but the reason for coming home was constant: West Warwick was where his heart was.
He traveled for employment, including a life-defining time in Wichita, Kansas working for Boeing, as well as for pleasure, travelling to ice rinks throughout the Northeast as he followed the minor-league Rhode Island Reds Hockey team on the road or to watch baseball, particularly while his brother Mike played and coached in the major leagues. Golf outings to Cape Cod, Maine and Myrtle Beach were always highlights in his retirement years.
Walter was a lifetime member and past Commander of the Crompton Veteran’s Organization, working tirelessly to help raise scholarship and charity funds, chairing programs to honor veterans throughout the county and playing in the organization’s golf league at Coventry Pines for more than two decades.
After the tour through the Pacific Theater, as a meteorologist on an aircraft carrier, during the Korean War era, Walter worked in the defense contractor segment for much of his adult life, building aircraft and submarines for a variety of companies for more than four decades. He retired from the General Dynamics Electric Boat Quonset Point facility as an Electrical Supervisor in 1993.
In retirement, his curiosity grew even stronger. He formed a company, Roarke Research & Analysis, to explore those things that interested him and his friends.
He also became an expert forager of wild mushrooms. Walter could spend days driving the back roads of Rhode Island and northern Connecticut identifying locations conducive to growing mushrooms and returning in the early fall to claim his prizes, giving his bounty for friends to enjoy.
His funeral will be held Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 9:00 am from the HENAULT-GALLOGLY Funeral Home, 5 Eddy Street, West Warwick followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am in St. Mary Church, 70 Church Street, West Warwick. Interment with military honors in St. Mary Cemetery, West Warwick. Visiting hours Wednesday 4:00-7:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Crompton Veteran’s Scholarship Fund, 37 Hepburn Street, West Warwick, RI 02893 in his memory would be appreciated. Information and condolences please visit: www.henault-gallogly.com
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